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West By Southwest: from the Collections of the Museum of the Southwest
August 1 - September 26, 2004
(above: Joseph Henry Sharp, Chant to the Redstone Pipe, © Joseph Henry Sharp, oil on linen, 29 x 25 inches, The Museum of the Southwest)
The heart of the Museum of the Southwest's collection is composed of images that embody southwestern symbols, subject matter, and coloration with an emphasis on images from the Taos Society of Artists. It is a sweeping examination of western paintings and sculpture that embrace landscape, Native American, and still-life subject matter. The works personify the capability of these individual artists to introduce their vision of the world through the creative works. Their images and lives collided in a locale rich in native culture with a landscape vast and colorful. Linked with the discernment of particular artists, these energized works have become a visual diary of their time and place. West By Southwest focuses on works of the twentieth century, with rare paintings from the Taos Society of Artists and historic and contemporary Santa Fe artists. Museum of the Southwest's collection does not declare a presumed thesis, nor does it define southwestern art of the period. It stands for a plurality of artists who were exploring the culture, landscape, and figures of Texas, New Mexico, and beyond. (right: Oscar Berninghaus, Taos Landscape, © Oscar Berninghaus, oil on linen, 20 x 24 inches, The Museum of the Southwest)
The core of the collection came to the Museum of the Southwest from Fred T. and Novadean Hogan. The Hogan Collection began as a genuinely personal appreciation of art. The collection focused on the Taos Society artists. There was never any pre-planned purchasing, but a natural interest in the beautiful simplicity of an Adams floral or an appreciation for the technical virtuosity of Sharp or Couse. The collection was, thus, a study in the creative process with constant focus on artistic quality and beauty. Part of the attraction of such a collection is that it was assembled over decades by a couple with a keen eye and responsive heart; this offers a special opportunity to view works of art that are uniquely meaningful to the original owners.
The Taos Society of Artists, the focal point of West By Southwest, includes painting by Kenneth M. Adams, Oscar E. Berninghaus, E. L. Blumenschein, Eanger Irving Couse, William Herbert "Buck" Dunton, Ernest Martin Hennings, William Victor Higgins, Bert Geer Phillips, Joseph Henry Sharp, and Walter Ufer. The Taos Society, a group of men from the east who for various reasons traveled west and stayed to paint the landscape and people they encountered, formed in 1915 to advocate the artistic discovery of the southwest. (lrft: E.L. Blumenschein, Portrait of Indian with Hair Ornament, © E.L. Blumenschein, oil on linen, 29 x 21 inches, The Museum of the Southwest)
Museum of the Southwest's collection contains a stylistically varied, broad representation of historic and contemporary Santa Fe artists including works by Randall Davey, William P. Henderson, Clark Hulings, Peter Hurd, Wilson Hurley, Willard Nash, Nicholai Fechin, Bettina Steinke, Gene Kloss, and Doug Hyde. The variety of approaches within this group of second-generation painters of New Mexico has a common thread that restates the images of the region utilizing the land, people, and symbols of New Mexico.
Contrasting styles of paintings are a record of how collectors experienced art. Additional masterpieces of American Western Art acquired by the Museum of the Southwest are by Thomas Hill, Gilbert Gaul, and Albert Bierstadt to mention a few. These works are similar in their interest in the environment or depiction of figures to the original group of Taos Society artists; these works were created in unique styles with variety and creativity in their execution.
The permanent collection initiates the viewer with images of fine art as benefactors and administrators chose them and acquired them. Aesthetically pleasing as these paintings are, they were originally chosen because they communicated something special to the collector; a timeless attribute all works of fine art should possess. (right: William P. Henderson, Portrait of Tesuque Woman, © William P. Henderson, oil on board, 30 x 24 inches, The Museum of the Southwest)
Artists for the exhibition:
RL readers may also enjoy these earlier articles:
For Southwest art history and Western art, see articles and essays inluding American Impressionism Goes West, an essay by Charles C. Eldredge; Remington: The Color of Night; Women Artist Pioneers of New Mexico, an article by Dottie Indyke; A Century of Western Art; Southwestern Colonial Art, an essay by Robert William Brown; The Pictoral Record of the Old West: the Beginning of the Taos School of Art, an essay by Robert Taft; Painters in Taos, New Mexico Prior to 1940; Taos Society of Artists, an article by Sarah Beserra; "New Deal" Art in New Mexico, an article by Kathryn Flynn; How the Santa Fe Art Colony Began, an article by Suzanne Deats; CCA: Cowboy Artists of America; Grand Canyon Painters and Their Earliest Patron, The Santa Fe Railroad; Introduction from "Celebrating America: Masterworks from Texas Collections", an essay by Jane Myers and Barbara McCandless and Art of the American West, an essay by Peter MacMIllan Booth.
Read more articles and essays concerning this institutional source by visiting the sub-index page for the Booth Western Art Museum in Resource Library
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